The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled against companies advertising “free guided tours” where there is an expectation that the tourists will be pay for the tour by tipping the guide.
This ruling relates to the upsurge in the number of operators advertising free tours and then pressuring customer to tip the guide at the end of a tour. These operations run in a similar way to companies like Uber where someone pays web platform company to offer their services as a self-employed guide. The difference being that the while the provider has to pay the website (usually on a per customer basis) the website advertises the tours as being “free”, so the provider has to gain tips from the customers in order to repay the platform operator and to make money. This practice is both misleading for customers and has significant issues in terms of visitor experience and product quality. As a result, the ASA has developed the attached guidance to restrict this type of activity.